Ground breaks on St. Anthony's new
$22 million ER department in Chesterton

By Jeff Schultz  - Chesterton Tribune on October 28, 2010

Chesterton municipal officials and local business leaders welcomed staff and directors of St. Anthony Memorial on Wednesday as the healthcare provider officially broke ground on its 48,000-square foot free-standing emergency department on Indian Boundary Road, on the six-acre site of the old Jewel/Osco store and strip mall.

Total projected construction cost: $22 million. General contractor: Tonn & Blank of Michigan City, a subsidiary of St. Anthony’s parent company, the Sisters of Saint Francis Health Services Inc.

The St. Anthony Memorial Chesterton Health Center will be the first-of-its-kind health department in Northwest Indiana.

Dr. James Callaghan, president of St. Anthony Memorial, told a crowd of nearly 150 people at yesterday’s outdoor—and very windy—ceremony that the building is expected to be completed in November 2011 and open shortly thereafter.

“We’re moving on our own timeline,” said Callaghan. The Chesterton Health Center should open before Porter hospital’s new facility, at the northwest corner of the U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49 in Liberty Township, is up and running. Porter hospital broke ground on the 250,000-square foot facility this July and is expected to be ready for business in summer of 2012.

But Chesterton Town Council members are excited to have this type of medical care conveniently available to residents at this location and said the center is “greatly needed” in northern Porter County.

“The dream Chesterton has had for a long time is a medical center along the Indiana 49 corridor,” said Council President Jeff Trout, R-2nd.

Trout also said the center will also be of service to the towns of Burns Harbor and Porter and will cut down on travel outside of town for those in need of medical help. “Thank you for bringing your compassionate, value-based medical expertise to the our area,” he told St. Anthony Memorial associates.

Trout said he looks forward to working with group for many years to come. He noted that St. Francis Health Services has built 183 schools, orphanages, and homes for the elderly.

During the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon at the Westchester Library Service Center, not long before the groundbreaking, Chamber Executive Director Heather Ennis stressed the importance of the health center to the Duneland economy. “The investments that St. Anthony Memorial is putting into this community are remarkable,” Ennis said.

Callaghan said that the center will create approximately 75 new full-time positions consisting of nurses, technicians, maintenance, and custodians, and that the center will be manned around-the-clock by board-certified emergency physicians already hired by St. Anthony Memorial.

The project will also bring 40 new jobs in construction. Callaghan said the building will be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). “It will be a ‘green’ building.”

The facility’s first floor will be a 24-hour full service emergency department, with 12 beds including three triage rooms where patients will be evaluated. Psychiatric services and behavioral medicine will also be a few of the available services.

An ambulance will be on site to transport patients needing admission to the St. Anthony Memorial’s main hospital campus in Michigan City.

Advanced diagnostics and expedient lab services will also be offered at the Chesterton Health Center, which will feature a digital radiology x-ray service, ultrasound machines, a 64-slice CT scan center, and outpatient testing.

Callaghan says later on the center will offer MRI/Mammography imaging services.

A shorter wait time for all of those services is an important goal for St. Anthony Memorial workers. Callaghan said the average wait time at an emergency department is three-and-a-half hours. The center aims to achieve discharge times in less than 90 minutes.

“It’s one-stop shopping for patient convenience,” said Callaghan.

St. Anthony ED Director Brenda Rogers said the second floor will house offices leased to physicians and specialty clinics for orthopedics and rheumatology among others.

The organization is also hoping to expand services and opportunities at its nearby existing facility, the Duneland Health and Wellness Institute at 810 Michael Drive. Callaghan said that the Institute has close to 3,000 members.

Also in conjunction with the Chesterton center groundbreaking, St. Anthony Memorial broke ground Wednesday in Michigan City for their 20,000-square foot cancer treatment center, whose construction will also be completed next year. That $12 million facility will offer the most advanced treatment options in radiation and medical oncology.

St. Anthony Memorial was recently given the Outstanding Achievement Award by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, one of only three hospitals in Indiana to be so honored. Also in tow are the 2010 Anthem Successful Practice Award and the BKD Indiana Excellence Award.

St. Anthony Memorial will also be expanding its Crown Point complex to include a 27,000-square foot outpatient surgery center.

Callaghan said that foundation work for the Chesterton center will go on until the end of this year, followed by steel work beginning in January.

Before donning a hardhat at the groundbreaking, Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of the Sisters of St. Francis, said that the organization is following the Franciscan mission here in Chesterton by meeting the needs of the people.

“We’re praying for good weather to keep things moving along,” she said.

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